In Memoriam: World Renowned Apologist, Evangelist Ravi Zacharias

Ravi Zacharias speaking at NRBWorld renowned Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias went to be with the Lord on May 19, 2020, at the age of 74, less than two weeks after being told by doctors that there was nothing more they could do to treat the very rare and aggressive cancer that was found earlier this year in his sacrum.

Zacharias’ eldest daughter, Sarah Davis, announced his passing with an update online titled, “Ravi Zacharias, Now with Jesus.”

“Today my beautiful father is more alive than he has ever been,” shared Davis on the website of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), which her father founded and which she currently leads as Global CEO. “We thank God for him and recommit our lives to sharing this truth with all who will hear, until He calls us to our eternal home.”

Frederick Antony Ravi Kumar Zacharias was born in Madras, India, (now Chennai) on March 26, 1946.

At the age of 17, Zacharias tried to commit suicide but failed. According to his ministry, it was while recovering in a Delhi hospital from the attempt that Zacharias was read the words of Jesus recorded in the Bible by the apostle John: “Because I live, you will also live.” In response, Zacharias surrendered his life to Christ and offered up a prayer that if he emerged from the hospital, “I will leave no stone unturned in my pursuit of truth.”

“Once Zacharias found the truth of the gospel, his passion for sharing it burned bright until the very end,” the ministry reported.

At the age of 19, Zacharias received confirmation of his calling to preach when he was awarded the Asian Youth Preacher Award at the international Youth Congress in Hyderabad. He would later graduate from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, with a Master of Divinity and teach at the Alliance Theological Seminary in New York, traveling and preaching around the country on weekends.

After a few years of teaching at the seminary, Zacharias was invited by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to be a plenary speaker at the inaugural International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists (“Amsterdam ‘83”) to address a gathering of 3,800 evangelists from 133 countries. According to his ministry, that would be another turning point for Zacharias, as he began to seriously consider the critical need of apologetics to remove the intellectual and existential barriers that kept many skeptics from considering the truth claims of Christ. A year later, in 1984, he founded Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM).

“Ravi's approach to apologetics was never to win the argument, rather it always displayed in love for people regardless of whether they agreed with him or not,” commented NRB CEO Troy Miller. “He influenced more than three generations of Christian apologists, pastors, and leaders. He will be missed, but I believe God will be using his legacy for generations to come. Our prayers go out the Zacharias family and to all at RZIM.”

For the last five decades, Zacharias has commended the Christian faith and addressed life’s great existential questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny with eloquence and grace.

Today, his global team of nearly 100 speakers and more than 250 employees worldwide continues to impact the heart and intellect of society’s thinkers and influencers through evangelism, apologetics, spiritual disciplines, training, and humanitarian support.

Zacharias also authored or edited nearly 30 books in the fields of theology, apologetics, comparative religion, and philosophy.

“It was his Savior, Jesus Christ, that my dad always wanted most to talk about,” recalled Davis. “Even in his final days, until he lacked the energy and breath to speak, he turned every conversation to Jesus and what the Lord had done. He perpetually marveled that God took a seventeen-year-old skeptic, defeated in hopelessness and unbelief, and called him into a life of glorious hope and belief in the truth of Scripture—a message he would carry across the globe for 48 years.”

Zacharias is survived by Margie, his wife of 48 years; his three children — Sarah, the Global CEO of RZIM, Naomi, Director of Wellspring International, and Nathan, RZIM’s Creative Director for Media; and five grandchildren.

The Zacharias family has asked in lieu of flowers that gifts be made to the ongoing work of RZIM.

A global livestream memorial service honoring and celebrating the life of Zacharias will be streamed live on YouTube and on Facebook on Friday, May 29. The program will begin at 11:00 a.m. ET, preceded at 10:30 a.m. ET by a special retrospective of Zacharias’ global influence.

Prior to Zacharias’ passing, people around the world expressed their gratitude for Zacharias with the hashtag #ThankYouRavi. The hashtag later trended on Twitter on the day of his passing.

Below is a selection of comments from various NRB members, followed by a video of Zacharias' address at the 2011 NRB Convention:

By NRB Staff

Published: May 19, 2020

Updated: May 28, 2020


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